Reservations and Permits

Reservation Information:

Visitors can make reservations for the developed campgrounds (Hillman Ferry, Energy Lake, Piney, and Wranglers Campgrounds) between 2 days and 6 months in advance. Reservations may be made:

    • Online
    • Or by phone: 1.800.525.7077. The call center is open weekdays from 9 AM - 5 PM, mid-January through early November.
    • Wranglers Campground is open year-round. Energy Lake, Piney, and Hillman Ferry Campgrounds are only open March-November.

Developed Campground Reservation Fees:

Brandon Spring Group Center, a year-round overnight environmental education facility, sits on a wooded knoll overlooking scenic Bards Lake and Lake Barkley in the Tennessee portion of Land Between the Lakes. The center provides an idyllic atmosphere for groups of all ages and supports lodging and food services for up to 128 people. Outdoor playing fields, a swimming pool, and a sheltered lake make it a great place for youth. This facility is perfect for school groups, church groups, retreats, reunions, workshops, meetings, and other overnight groups. Reservations are required.

Land Between the Lakes has six open air pavilions. Reservations must be made at least 10 working days in advance of the date needed.

Located on Kentucky Lake in the southern portion of Land Between the lakes, Colson Hollow Group Camping Area provides 25 acres of maintained fields for camping groups of up to 200 people.

A user fee is charged and a permit is required to use the area. Compatible groups may be scheduled for the same dates. Refuse container and one accessible vault toilet building are provided.  Additional sanitary facilities can be provided upon request at an additional charge. In the event of heavy rain, the creek crossing may become impassable. Evacuate as needed.

  • $40 a night, minimum of 10 people
  • For more information, call 270.924.2044

Pre-scheduled group rates are available for groups of ten or more. Available for admission to the Golden Pond Planetarium, Homeplace 1850s Working Farm, and Woodlands Nature Station. 

Permit Information:

A Basic/Dispersed Camping Permit is required for each person ages 18 and over when camping in a Basic Camping Area, Basic Campground, or within non-designated areas of the recreation area (dispersed camping).

  • Permits may be purchased online or in-person at any of our facilities
  • 1-year permit expires one year from effective date ($50)
  • 3-day permit expires 3 days from effective date ($10)

Please note that the Basic/Dispersed Camping Permit is not applicable at the four Developed Campgrounds or at Self-Service Campgrounds. Instead of a permit, campers pay a nightly per camping unit fee at the Self-Service Campgrounds. Visit the Basic, Dispersed, and Self-Service camping page for more information.

2023 Cedar Christmas Tree Permits will be available November 24-December 24, 2023.

Obtaining and Displaying Your Permit:

  • Permits available ONLINE ONLY, November 24 through December 24, 2023.
  • Go to the CampLBL site and set up an account to obtain your free Christmas Tree Permit.
  • If you have made camping reservations or purchased a permit at Land Between the Lakes online in the past, log in to your account.
  • Complete, print, and sign your permit.
  • Display permit in windshield of vehicle while looking for your cedar tree.

Selecting and Cutting Your Cedar Tree:

  • A permit entitles a family to cut one cedar tree. Cedar trees may be cut anywhere in Land Between the Lakes except:
    • Within sight of US68/KY80
    • Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway
    • Cemeteries
    • Facilities, including the Elk & Bison Prairie
    • Nature Watch Areas
    • Campgrounds
    • Timber sale areas
    • Other mowed areas
  • Read cutting guidelines provided on the website before you cut your tree.
  • While most of Land Between the Lakes was unaffected by tornado damage, there are significant areas of damaged timber. Care needs to be taken when recreating in and around these areas. Beware of loose overhead limbs as well as logging operations.


Pine Versus Cedar Trees- Know the Difference:

Pine tree vs cedar tree

Note the similarity between pine and cedar trees. The Christmas tree permit is only for cedar trees less than 10 feet tall with stumps less than 4 inches tall.

Cutting Firewood for Personal Use: There are areas on Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area where firewood gathering for home use is allowed. These locations can change from year to year. 

Firewood permits can be purchased by appointment only:

  • Email to request an appointment: [email protected] or [email protected]
  • You will need to bring with you to your appointment:
    -Your Drivers License
    -Description of the vehicle used to collect the firewood (make, model, year, color, and license plate number)

Firewood permit allows:

  • Authorization for removal is for dead and downed trees only
  • Firewood can be removed anywhere on Land Between the Lakes except in timber sale areas, designated recreation areas, cemeteries, or along major roads such as US68/KY80 and Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway
  • Users are encouraged to take advantage of easily accessible storm debris piles along roadways. A few prior timber sale areas may be open for firewood cutting. This will be specified in the permit.
  • You may cut dead and downed trees to burn at your campsite in Land Between the Lakes. For this purpose, a firewood permit is not required.
  • Various groups and individuals often approach the Forest Service with requests to use national forest lands for an array of diverse activities. In the interest of protecting our natural resources, the Forest Service must always determine whether the proposed use is compatible with its mission and values.

Quantity Limits:

  • Firewood is measured in units of 100 cubic feet (1 CCF) of solid wood
  • A cord is the amount of a lightly stacked pile, 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 8 feet long
  • 1 CCF = 1.28 cords
  • Firewood permits are valid October 1 - September 30.


  • A permittee may NOT collect more than 1 CCF of wood under one firewood permit
  • All firewood must be cut into pieces not exceeding 30 inches in length
  • Firewood can only be collected in the areas identified on the map given with that permit
  • NO firewood can be cut inside timber sale areas
  • No firewood can be collected in campgrounds, cemeteries or along the trace and 68/80
  • No standing trees are to be cut.
  • Do not collect firewood within 10 feet of a stream channel, 25 feet of a wetland or spring, and 100 feet of vernal pools (critical amphibian habitat).


  • Always wear your personal protection equipment including:
    • Leather gloves
    • Leg protection such as chaps
    • Hardhat
    • Nonskid leather boots
    • Long sleeved shirt
    • Eye Protection
    • Hearing Protection
  • Always have a lookout when cutting or running a chainsaw
  • Always have a method of communication when running a saw
  • Always have an escape route when cutting trees
  • Make sure your area is free of obstructions, debris, or vegetation
  • Pack a first aid kit
  • Always have a place to keep you safe in the event a log rolls, kicks, or bucks.
  • Trucks may be overloaded when filled with wood. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to see what load weight the truck can safely haul.

Horse Day Use Riding Permit is required for each trailer entering Land Between the Lakes for the purposes of riding horses for one day only ($10). Get your permit online or at the Wranglers Gatehouse.

Annual Horse Trailer Permits are available at Wranglers Campground only ($100). Annual permits are valid January 1 - December 31.

Annual Permit: $100. Upon purchase, 2023 annual permits are valid for riding and will expire on December 31, 2023. 
1 to 3-day Permit:  $20; 
1-3 consecutive days from date of purchase

Where to purchase permits:  OHV riding permits cannot be purchased online. Riding permits can be purchased at the Turkey Bay OHV Area Gatehouse, Friday-Sunday, from 8:30 am-5:00 pm, OR 7 days a week from 9:00 am-5:00 at the Golden Pond Visitor Center. If the gatehouse is not staffed, you must get your riding permit at Golden Pond Visitor Center. For faster registration, please print and fill out the Turkey Bay OHV Area Registration and Liability Waiver Form. Bring the form to either Turkey Bay OHV Area Gatehouse or Golden Pond Visitor Center to register.

Turkey Bay OHV Area Hours of Operation: Riding times are dawn to dark, with permit. Turkey Bay OHV Area is open 7 days a week. Any weather-related closures (such as heavy rains or saturated soil conditions) will be posted on our Alerts page.

As a steward of the national forests, the Forest Service has a duty to minimize resource impacts on national forest system lands. Large group gatherings in the national forests have significant adverse impacts on forest resources, public health and safety, and the ability of the agency to allocate space in the face of increasing constraints on the use of national forest system land. A permit system allows the agency to address these problems more expeditiously, more effectively, and more equitably.

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area manages special uses consistent with National Forest Service Direction and that direction is found at

You may apply for a Special Use Permit by contacting Land Between the Lakes Administrative Office at 270-924-2000, or by email at [email protected]

Any recreation event held at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area that charges a fee or any commercial operation requires a Special Use Permit (for example: bike races, trail rides, rodeos, etc.). Please contact the Administrative Office at 270-924-2000 or by email at [email protected] to find out if your event requires a Special Use Permit, or for information on obtaining a permit.

Applicants for Special Use Permits should note that the permitting process can be time-consuming, may require multi-step National Forest Management Act analysis and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, and ultimately may not be approved. The Forest Service will evaluate Special Use applicants to determine if they comply with public interest.

At a minimum, these proposals should be consistent with Area Plan management objectives, standards, and desired future conditions; and be consistent with other applicable Federal, State, and local statutes and regulations. Most permits require at least 90 days for processing. Noncommercial group uses are any activity conducted on National Forest Service lands involving 75 or more people, either as participants or spectators, in which (a) no entry or participation fee is charged, and (b) the primary purpose of the activity is not the sale of a good or service. Examples of noncommercial activities include club or family recreation outings, reunions, and weddings. No permit fee, bonding, or insurance is required for noncommercial group uses. The permit holder is responsible for camping fees.

Noncommercial group uses are any activity conducted on National Forest Service lands involving 75 or more people, either as participants or spectators, in which (a) no entry or participation fee is charged, and (b) the primary purpose of the activity is not the sale of a good or service. Examples of noncommercial activities include club or family recreation outings, reunions, and weddings. No permit fee, bonding, or insurance is required for noncommercial group uses. The permit holder is responsible for camping fees.

Learn more from the links below about Commercial Filming and Still Photography and how to apply for a Special Use Permit:

Completed applications for commercial filming/photography may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to:
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
Attn: Special Use Permit- Commercial Filming and Photography
100 Van Morgan Drive
Golden Pond, KY 42044

Noncommercial Special Use Permits are required for weddings at Land Between the Lakes if the following criteria are true:

  • You have more than 75 people attending the wedding
  • You have live or recorded music for the event.
  • Note: The policy for 75+ group members and live or recorded music does not apply to any wedding held at Colson Hollow Group Camp because use falls under the group camp permit.
  • You serve a catered meal
  • No weddings can be held at the Homeplace, Woodlands Nature Station, and Stephen’s Church.
  • Weddings may be held in the pavilions at the Homeplace, Woodlands Nature Station, and Golden Pond Visitor Center. You must coordinate with the facility manager and then reserve the pavilion by calling 270-924-2044.
  • Weddings may be held at Wranglers, Hillman Ferry, Energy Lake, and Piney campgrounds by coordinating with the facility manager

You may apply for a Special Use Permit by contacting Land Between the Lakes Administrative Office at 270-924-2000, or by email at [email protected]. You must complete an application providing:

  • applicant’s name and mailing address;
  • if the applicant is an organization, and the name of an individual authorized to receive notice of the decision on the application;
  • description of the activity;
  • location and description of the National Recreation Area lands and facilities you would like to use; estimated number of participants and spectators;
  • starting and ending date and time of the activity; and
  • name of the person (or persons) 21 years of age or older who will sign the permit on behalf of the applicant.

The application must be received by the Administrative Office at least 6 months in advance of your activity.

If your application is approved, a permit will be issued prior to the start of your activity.

Applications will be approved if they meet the following 8 evaluation criteria (for details on the 8 criteria, particularly on criteria 5 and 6, review the Code of Federal Regulations at 36 CFR 251.54 (h)(1)):

  1. Authorization of the activity is not prohibited by rules or orders that apply to the national forests, or by federal, state, or local law related to the content of activity.
  2. Authorization of the activity is consistent or can be made consistent with standards and guidelines in the Area Plan that apply to the area where the activity will take place.
  3. The activity does not materially impact the characteristics or functions of environmentally sensitive resources or lands.
  4. The activity will not delay, halt, or prevent administrative use of an area by the Forest Service or other scheduled or existing activities on National Forest System lands.
  5. The activity does not violate state and local public health laws and regulations applicable to the site proposed for the activity.
  6. The activity will not pose a substantial danger to public safety.
  7. The activity does not involve military or paramilitary training or exercises by private organizations or individuals, unless such training or exercises are federally funded.
  8. A person (or persons) 21 years of age or older has been designated to sign and will sign a permit on behalf of the applicant.

If your application is denied and an alternative time, place, or manner will allow you to meet all the evaluation criteria, the Forest Service will offer that alternative.

Any research activities or collection for research of plants or animals found on Land Between the Lakes requires a Special Use Permit. Any application for a Special Use Permit for research must include a research proposal for review. The Applicant must also obtain the proper state collection permits.